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Blogcritics Editors’ Picks of the Week (Jan. 18 – Jan. 24): Up All Week Edition

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Sleep was rare for me this week – a shimmering oasis on a sea of sand paper, ready to cut my very eyes with its slashful fury at any unwatchful moment. Luckily I had, as always, some truly outstanding articles by the best and brightest Blogcritics to keep me up, perked, poised, and prepared to pontificate on moment’s notice.

Be careful, for what lies below is bound to keep you awake!


Music Editor Connie Phillips chose:

Interview: The Gossip by Modern Pea Pod
Zach Hoskins represents his Modern Pea Pod well this week with this in-depth and comprehensive interview with The Gossip. He asks provocative questions and provides a bit of a history to make the article a truly interesting read.

Concert Review: Reel Big Fish, Goldfinger Burn Up Hollywood’s Avalon by Eric Berlin
Thanks, Eric, for giving all your readers a front row seat at this show and for writing a colorful and detailed review!

TV/Film Editor Joan Hunt chose:

CD Review: Bob Brozman – Blues Reflex by gypsyman
Very persuasive, respectful review of a CD that’s now on its way into my collection.

SciTech Editor Lisa McKay chose:

CD Review: Klezmer Travels The World – David Glukh International Ensemble by gypsyman
Any assessment of a work of art is always enhanced by the cultural context that the reviewer brings to the table. The intrepid (and learned) gypsyman lays out a review that is noteworthy for the historical framework within which it places its subject matter. I learned a lot about the history and evolution of klezmer, and now I want to hear this CD.

Blogcritic Stephen V Funk chose:

CD Review: Vulnerable – Marvin Gaye by Robert Lashley
A well-written overview of the story behind this “lost” album and of course the album itself. This introduced me to a Marvin Gaye album I never even knew about and, most importantly, made me want to hear it.


Books Editor Warren Kelly chose:

Book Review: The Thousandfold Thought by R. Scott Bakker by gypsyman
I love it when a book review goes into characterizations, showing how the way the author writes his characters contributes to the book as a whole. It sounds like this book is deep in characterization anyway, and gypsyman really shows how that makes the book better.

Frustration: Being With a Small Publisher by Ray Wong
Congratulate Ray on having his book published! And congratulate him even more because he took a tough road to publication — small press. This piece should be required in every creative writing class, so that people know what to expect.

Blogcritic gypsyman chose:

Book Review: Race Against Time by Stephen Lewis by Bonnie
Not only does Bonnie do an excellent job of letting the reader know what’s in store for them when they read this series of lectures, but she manages to very accurately describe the passion and integrity that have made Stephen Lewis so credible.

A great review of a book that would be a surprise coming from someone within the U.N. for its honesty, if it hadn’t been written by Mr. Lewis. There was a movement to try and get rid of him because of that honesty. Thankfully for the people of Africa he’s managed to keep his job. Bonnie’s review tells us how this book shows how important he is for that almost abandoned continent.


TV/Film Editor Joan Hunt chose:

Movie Review: Memoirs of a Geisha 2005 by Echeblahblah
Beautiful portrait of a visually stirring movie.

Movie Review: Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World by El Bicho
The man nails it again! The perfect review. I can’t wait to take a look at this movie. Damn that El Bicho! I spend more time hanging out in dark theaters because of him.

TV Review: Surgery With The Stars Debuts on Fox by PoopyCaca
Despite the very odd moniker, PoopyCaca is a delight. The utter insanity of his premise for a TV show is made even more ironic when you consider that the networks will do anything to leave their mark on society. I just hope network execs don’t read this article and decide it’s a good idea.

Culture Executive Producer Eric Berlin chose:

Blogcritics On the Pulse – Joe Pichler, The Golden Globes, Sasha Cohen, The NFL by Craig Lyndall
Craig serves up the zeitgeist with a new column that dives into the topics and issues that are most on the minds of people on this planet. How do we know what’s on their minds? Because they’re searching for it on Google, our new e-planetary overlords! This week’s rundown runs the gamut, from Kim Mathers (yes, that Kim, hip hoppers) to the Golden Globes to James Frey.


New! Politics Editor Dave Nalle chose:

When Good Authors Go Bad: Orson Scott Card Signs On With ‘Intelligent Design’ Fraudsters by Steven Hart
I always knew there was something creepy about Orson Scott Card and this investigation of his history of bizarre opinions on political and scientific topics was thorough and informative and best of all explained why I’ve always felt uncomfortable with Card’s work.

I Surrender Uncle Sam… by Silas Kain
A heartfelt shout of outrage from someone abandoned by the government support network, but struggling to make the best of it. The author’s insightful comments in the discussion thread following the original article actually articulate his concerns even better than the article which is heavy on emotion and low on hard facts.

Blogcritic John Spivey chose:

In Defense of Bill Cosby by Robert Lashley

Blogcritic Elvira Black chose:

In Defense of Bill Cosby by Robert Lashley
Robert eloquently addresses Bill Cosby’s remarks on the culpability of African American “leaders” who fail to address the self-sabotage inherent in an anti-intellectual “gangsta” mentality.

Robert’s brutally honest, “from the inside out” viewpoint brings up issues that white Americans can only discuss from the relative “safety” of the sidelines—and in hushed tones at that. Here’s hoping that Robert will submit this important essay to other outlets as well—for his is a voice that needs to be heard.


Sports Editor Mathew T. Sussman chose:

The Chicken Draft by Hardy
To the untrained eye, Hardy is reporting on the impact of conscription of a poultry nation at a time of war. Come to think of it, perhaps that’s the underlying metaphor. But it’s more likely that he took a fantasy football draft to an unhealthy level with his friends and divided up a dinner of fried chicken the same way he’d divvy up running backs and kickers. At least he owned the legs and wings. Let this be a constant reminder to not be caught up in a sport at a level where you are watching a game and want your favorite team to win, as well as have the opposing team score by way of their tight end and coleslaw.

Bittersweet Triumph: Seahawks in the Super Bowl by Michael Heumann
This post took 30 years to write. Blame perennial suckage from the Seattle Seahawks. Credit it to the 2005 team. After all, they snapped the franchise’s six-game playoff losing streak. They finally broke through the ranks of NFC also-rans and became a Super Bowl contender, not just on paper. Rooting for the Seahawks was a tradition with Michael and his father, who passed away last year. The story of a hard-luck franchise and their one shot at glory comes to a — oh hell I’ll just steal his word — bittersweet pause at the thought of Michael and Dad — a powerful story you won’t see on ESPN or read in Sports Illustrated, but one you can read here on Blogcritics. So go read it.

TV/Film Editor Joan Hunt (again!) chose:

The Chicken Draft by Hardy
Have you ever read an article that made you call other people into the room to read it, too? Worse, you actually end up reading it to them because you just have to. Thanks to Hardy, more than one person was subjected to this torture as I insisted I read them the inspiration for our new Superbowl tradition.


Gaming Editor Ken Edwards chose:

Nintendo DS Review: Electroplankton by Sean Dwyer
This week Sean explores the “game” Electroplankton, he writes: The strongest argument yet for convincing people that video games should be considered art.

PC Game Review: Warhammer 40,000 – Dawn of War by Jonathan Zabel
Jonathan is a big fan of Warhammer, but has been disappointed at the video game adaptations of the series – until now.


SciTech Editor Lisa McKay chose:

Let’s Talk About Drugs by Elvira Black
Elvira gives us an unusually personal look at the pros and cons of psychiatric medications. While there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to many of the behavioral/emotional problems that beset so many of us in this pharmaceutically-inclined day and age, this piece raises some questions that we would all do well to think about.

Blogcritic Stephen V Funk chose:

AA: Threat or Menace? by Elvira Black
A brutally honest and compellingly written first person account that will encourage you to reexamine your preconceptions about AA and 12-step programs in general.

Production Notes
Blogcritics selected this week: please feel free to make a selection for next week’s edition. You can leave them in the comments or send them to Eric Berlin:

All are more than free to leave general impressions and personal selections for this or any week below!

Please send you input, ideas, and suggestions to Eric Berlin:

Thanks for stopping by!

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  • Elvira Black

    Thanks so much, Lisa and Stephen, for the picks!

    I e-mailed my pick to you yesterday for In “Defense of Bill Cosby” but it’s not here! Can it be added? I had a couple of paragraphs about it??

    Many thanks–

  • Elvira Black

    Well, either I’m a bigger ditz than I thought, or you’ve just added my recc in now. Either way, many thanks!

  • Lisa McKay

    Not ditzy, Elvira – EB just mailed me your copy and I added it in. You’re welcome!

  • Elvira Black

    Whew! Thanks, Lisa–good to know I wasn’t having a “senior moment”–at least not this time!

  • Zach

    Thanks a lot – glad you guys liked the interview! Their new album’s great too…

  • gypsyman

    So that everybody knows, no money has changed hands between myself and the editorial staff on this site…Thank you Lisa, Joan and Warren. It’s funny all three items you selected were three of my favourite pices that I’ve read and listened to in a while…I guess that came through in the reviews…again thanks.

    Oh by the way, Temple, if you read this, I’ve stolen your design for the little banner and have been using it for making myself little banners on my site leading back here any time I win this award…how to fit three links into one banner may be a trick…What I’ve done if anyone’s interested is just hosted it over at flickr and put them in each post as apropriate, and into the template of my blog permanetly.


  • Joanie

    excellent picks from all the editors and extraordinary work by the writers!

    kudos to Eric Berlin on the pick section, too!

  • SonnyD

    Eric: About that intro paragraph. “…perked, poised, and prepared to pontificate” have you perchance been bitten by the barbarous gonzo bug? Reference to the opening of his post, “analogies, allegory and algorithms” which, by the way, all commentors should be required to read…twice…before being allowed to participate. They can, however, skip the comment section. Praise heaped upon praise will only go to his head.

  • Scott Butki

    Good picks. I’m especially pleased to see Michael Heuman recognized since I’m the reason he joined this place.

  • gypsyman

    I would humbly offer up Ms. Chelsea Snyder’s “My Emo Is Bigger Than Your Emo” at for my pick of the week Jan.25-Jan31/06. It is perfect in it’s denouncing of using stupid little phrases expressing pseudo emotions.

    Thank you Chelsea for making my morning and may anybody offering to share with you, be offering a chocolate bar…


  • Chelsea Snyder

    Thanks for the props, gypsyman! Loved your piece as well! And thanks for the chocolate. Much needed this week! :)